NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 3 – Global pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) on Tuesday launched a new Paediatric pneumonia vaccine into the Kenyan Market.
GSK Head of Medical and Regulatory Affairs in Kenya Dr William Mwatu said the drug will be used for immunisation against pneumonia, blood infections and middle ear infections.
“The Vaccine will be used against life-threatening diseases such as meningitis, blood and middle ear infections caused by the streptococcus pneumonia bacteria,” he said.
It will also be administered to children aged between six weeks and two years. Dr Mwatu said Kenya was the first country in Africa to get the vaccine in the market.
He was pleased that the vaccine will open access to new treatment that could potentially prevent childhood deaths and suffering.
“Nearly one in three cases of meningitis, blood infection and fluid or pus build up in spaces around the lungs which are life threatening are currently not vaccine preventable as they are caused by strains not covered by the existing pneumococcal vaccine,” he said.
He also viewed the vaccine as a great achievement in delivering considerable public health benefits to Kenyans.
“The vaccine will deliver broad public health benefits by offering coverage against strains, are covered in the existing pneumococcal vaccine,” said Dr Mwatu.
The news of the vaccine came a day after about 53 countries marked the first ever World Pneumonia Day. In Kenya during the launch health experts said there are only 2 pneumonia vaccines available in the country and only in private hospitals. The government however said it will provide them at all public health centres early next year.
According to UNICEF and World Health Organisation pneumonia kills more children than HIV/AIDS, measles and malaria combined.
Due to the threat health experts in Kenya have appealed to the public to practice good hygiene and also vaccinate children and elderly people who are the most vulnerable groups.
The estimates further show the disease claims more than 5,500 children per day in developing countries alone.
The statistics also revealed that of children outpatients, 65 percent suffer from respiratory complications with 25 percent being confirmed to be pneumonia. In Kenya only 18 percent are found to have pneumonia.